It looks like Ringo Starr may have to change the lyrics of his iconic song (written by Lennon and McCartney) to “I get high with a little help from my breads.” According to a new report, researchers have genetically engineered THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, from simple yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).
According to their paper published in the journal Biotechnology Letters, biochemists at the Technical University of Dortmund in Germany were able to synthesize a small amount of THC from the little fungus that makes bread rise and beer ferment. While the quantity obtained by this method does not match the new strains of marijuana plants that yield 30% THC, the yeast version is legal and the scientists expect their yield to rise like the yeast itself.
While there are already synthetic versions of THC available in pill form for medical uses like nausea prevention and appetite stimulation, the genetically modified yeast version of THC is easier to make and expected to be cheaper in price. This would also supply medical researchers with a reliable and economical source for THC to test for other clinical uses. The process also creates cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that may have similar health benefits.
This news comes hot on the
buns heels of another report that scientists at Stanford University had genetically engineered yeast to produce the narcotic painkiller hydrocodone. While quantities again are small, it’s hoped that synthesizing opioids from yeast will allow researchers to fine-tune the drug and make more effective and less addictive.
As expected, researchers on both projects are concerned about those who will try to replicate their yeast experiments at home and end up starring as dealers in a show called “Breaking Bread.” All joking aside, researcher Kevin Chen hopes the public gives these yeast-to-THC discoveries the respect they deserve:
This is something that could literally change the lives of millions of people.